Friday, November 28, 2008

The Art of the Sheep

"People are MEANT to be lead!"

One thing's for certain. She wanted to be heard, and everyone did. At least to judge by the swivel-head factor.

This argument can be taken more ways than flights to London. Up, down, diagonally, in the fourth dimension, take your pick. You can probably prove your preference. Take my second sentence: "...swivel-head factor." Everyone within range of her comment turned to look at her. Realistically, there were a range of factors in that: curiosity, irritation with the noise, offence, etc. It doesn't really matter what the reasons were. People looked because she spoke loudly and with conviction. It might be semantics, but they were lead. She may even have spoken forcefully to prove her point.

Is that unfair? Probably, but that's not relevant.

"J, you're dead in the water. If people don't even have the freedom to check out a conversation without being 'lead', we're all screwed."


Whether I like it or not, her statement was correct. She lead the action in the cafe. There is absolutely no way to deny that. But just because people were lead, are they mindless minions? There is the real question, and it depends on you. I looked for two reasons. First, I was immediately curious, and if there had been room at their table I would have joined. Second, I love it when someone has the guts to speak up without being a tool. So in being lead by her action, I was provoked to thoughts which wouldn't necessarily come to mind unbidden. She lead me to greater thought, and that is the way with humans.

I, typical Westerner that I be, prize coming up with intelligent thought independently. That is not the actual outworking of life. Everything we know, and I mean everything outside of basic human instincts, is taught to us either indirectly or directly. Let's suppose someone teaches you to think critically from differing viewpoints. You then use this newfound ability to discover something which is either forgotten, known by few, or even totally new. Presuming you arrived at something new, you would never have achieved it without the interference of another person. You were lead, and you discovered something because of it.

It seems we are forced to conclude that people are meant to be lead. But what is the difference between the person being lead, and the person not taking responsibility for how they are lead and in turn lead? Everyone is lead so that they can lead. No one is exempt. I don't care how small of a role you carry, or how twisted the model of leadership over you is. You have the opportunity to learn, but it likely won't be easy. The difference between the two types of people, both being lead, is that one chooses the difficult route of learning, and the other chooses to just be lead.

I suspect that because I was raised without a telly, I was left with an abiding distaste for it. How many people get ALL their info from a TV and garden variety print media? I hope that it's not this bad, but it looks like the preeminent example of people not paying attention to their leadership. It has drawn us into a lazy mentality where we would rather be spoon fed almost anything than contend with the struggles of achieving a healthy balance in our views. I'm not innocent in this either. I've done my share of sitting back and letting the telly lead my brain cells down the garden path of distracting entertainment. I'm here to say with certainty, knowing myself pre-tube and post-tube, that the box hampers imaginative thought. Certainly I'm not alone in noticing the difference between Bugs Bunny and Co. versus that awful yellow cleaning implement and friends. Children's cartoons now require an IQ of about 6 to grasp. Any child with more brain power than that is going to be drained by them, and the cycle continues. It appears the goal is to bring people down to the lowest possible common denominator. Look around you. Telly prepares people to become a dumb moveable mass. Just about the perfect frame of mind for the Lords to reacquire their peasants.

As you allow yourself to drift from personal responsibility in being lead and learning to lead, the greater the necessity becomes to lead you. I have a question. At which point does our society absolutely revert back to a two class system: those leading, and those being lead? Or has it always been like that? I see potent examples of this today, and in my life perhaps the clearest example is the average church service. Most people walk in, sit, listen, perhaps even ponder, and that's about the extend of their contribution. Is this the church member's fault? Yes and no. They've allowed themselves to be placed into that position, but there is a tremendous amount of pressure and even training to conform to a "submissive" posture. This is a universal human issue.

Ultimately, it is my responsibility to maintain an attitude of awareness, to not numb myself to life and free thought, to not depend on someone or something else to do the majority of my thinking. Advice is welcome, but at the end of every day, I must make decisions. The alternative is to abdicate my responsibility. That is also my choice, and taking that route brings me to another side of the argument, as there are far reaching implications. But that's a topic for another day.

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